Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Little Things

I've been feeling overwhelmed, and when I'm overwhelmed, everything seems to suffer. My cooking, the cleanliness of my apartment, my patience with others, my ability to find a parking space.

Sometimes it's the little things that make everything okay. Having a freshly cleaned dog who smells like pina colada, having a husband who after 3 years of marriage now spontaneously makes the bed, having a homemade loaf of Portuguese sweet bread in the freezer, getting free dough when you have a mushroom pizza craving.

I was smiling before I even started cooking it, after all, who doesn't like free dough? I was even happier when it came out every bit as delicious as I'd hoped.

adapted from Rachael Ray's Mushroom Lovers' Pizza

1 8 oz package of white mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1 8 oz package of baby bella mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1/2 a small onion, sliced very thin
.5 to .75 lbs shredded gruyere cheese
dough (you can usually buy this from your local pizza place)
1/4 C dry white wine (you can sub vermouth)
1 bay leaf
1 T fresh thyme removed from stem and chopped
1 T Worcestershire sauce (this often contains anchovies, so would make the dish not vegetarian, you can omit it, or find a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, there are some on the market).
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
salt, pepper
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter
small amount of cornmeal for cooking the pizza.

Preheat your oven to 450F.
In a medium pan, combine the onion and 1.5 T olive oil. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring periodically. Check the heat carefully, you want to caramelize the onion, not make it crispy. It should slowly turn golden brown and the onion should taste sweet. Once that's started, in another medium pan, combine a T of olive oil, the butter, garlic, mushrooms and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the bits of stuck mushroom. Add salt and pepper, about 2 t salt should be good. Cook for another 5 minutes to cook off some of the liquid. Add the thyme.

Stretch or roll out your dough. On a large sheet pan, or pizza stone, sprinkle some cornmeal. Put the dough on the pan, and cook at 450 F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350. Remove from oven for topping. Sprinkle gruyere over the whole pizza. Then add the mushrooms and onions. Cook for 5-10 more minutes until cheese is melty and toppings are warm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back On-Air Soon

Shh...just watch the bars. The show will be on soon. (At least that's what my mother used to promise me.)

In the past few weeks the stars have not been smiling on my cooking fortunes. I have gotten home from work very late many a night; one or twice because I was actually working late, the other times due to unforeseen circumstances.

The unforeseen circumstances include:
1. A train fire which caused me to take a detour and subsequently spend 15-20 minutes lost in one of the country's top 10 most dangerous cities.
2. The closing of a major highway between my work and home due to a horrific tractor trailer accident
3. A night where I couldn't find my keys, finally found them in the ignition of my locked car, had my parents come with my spare key, discovered that the car wouldn't start, promptly went off to look for someone with jumper cables, carefully locking both the regular keys and the spare key in the car and having to call AAA.

None of these are very conducive to wanting to cook dinner. There has been much take-out. Any cooking has been done while whimpering softly.

I will return with food soon though, I promise. In fact, last night there was a pasta dish with eggplant, that I cooked and ate, which may come as a shock to those of you who know my feelings on eggplant.

I'm also planning a new once a month feature where I show you something from my kitchen that I love.

So stay tuned.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cantaloupe and Peach Soup

My first thought as I was pureeing the heck out of this was, wow, this is exactly what I would want to eat if my jaw were wired shut. Granted, I have never had my jaw wired shut, but I do know not one but two people who have suffered this fate. One had her jaw deliberately broken to treat recurring pain from TMJ and the other, a drunken hockey player, fell out of his bunk bed. If I recall correctly, neither could eat solid food for quite some time. This is so light and sweet and refreshing it would brighten up anyone's day (even those of us with fully functioning jaws). I can picture packing a thermos of it for a picnic of cheeses and baguettes, or serving it as a light appetizer before a summer dinner. We served up bowls of it with dollops of vanilla yogurt for dessert. The yogurt is so creamy and silky mixed in with the peach and cantaloupe.
from Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Necessary equipment: food processor or blender, an immersion blender will not work (in my case this meant blending one cup at a time in my trusty mini-prep. I really thought I was going to burn out its little motor).

1 cantaloupe (about 5 inches diameter)
4-6 peaches, very ripe
6 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T honey
1 C freshly squeezed orange juice
dash of nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon

Peel and slice all the peaches, removing the pits. Place them in a pot with the lemon juice, honey and spices. Bring it to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.Remove the rind and cut the cantaloupe into 1 inch pieces. Add the cantaloupe and orange juice to the peach mixture and then use your blender or food processor to puree the mixture until very smooth. Refrigerate until very cool and serve.


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